Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has dubbed the 2023 Budget a “marked failure,” noting that it did not address inflation.
“There are absolutely no measures in this budget to deal with inflation, “ Norton noted.
“While I agree that there is need for assistance, one also recognises that if you are putting money into the system without measures to deal with inflation, the cost of living will go up further, and so in some regard, this budget is a recipe for increasing the cost of living of the people.”
On Monday, the Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, presented the country’s largest Budget – a whopping $781.9 billion.
In his more than four hours speech, Dr. Singh said that 2022 recorded an estimated inflation rate of 7.2 per cent, which was above the 5.7 per cent recorded in 2021.
Moreover, he said that monetary policy in 2023 will remain centred on keeping prices and exchange rates stable while ensuring the economy is conducive to a sustainable expansion in lending to the private sector and economic output.
Notwithstanding, Norton contended that the main ingredient missing from the 2023 National Budget is the people.
He pointed to the $5,000 increase in old age pension and the $2,000 increase in public assistance, highlighting that it cannot impact the high cost of living.
“It is our considered opinion that this budget is a dismal failure. I have mentioned what it would do in terms of inflation, but most importantly, the resources of this country they are not meeting the people.”
The main Opposition – the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition has been calling for measures to cushion the high cost of living faced by many Guyanese.
But the government has been boasting of softening what it deemed “imported inflation” by implementing a suite of fiscal measures.
These measures, according to the Senior Finance Minister, include the lowering of the excise tax rate for petroleum imports, extending the application of the freight cost adjustment to pre-pandemic levels for the calculation of import taxes, and distributing subsidised fertiliser to farmers to encourage replanting and reduce the impact of imported fertiliser price spikes.